A descriptive analysis of the non-urgent use of emergency departments
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A descriptive analysis of the non-urgent use of emergency departments

Carla Brim Nurse educator, St John Medical Center, Longview, WA, United States

This study by Carla Brim from the United States analyses why people seek non-urgent care in emergency departments during hours when community providers are available. Results indicate that lack of healthcare insurance and having public insurance are the factors most closely associated with such use of emergency departments. This information can be used to bring about change in policymaking decisions about healthcare assessments

Access to health care is a major concern of consumers, healthcare providers and policymakers. Healthcare access is defined as having a usual source of health care or a regular source or site of care that serves as a point of entry into the healthcare system (Litaker et al 2005). Having a usual source of care provides the individual with prevention measures and continuing management for chronic conditions. The usual source of health care for a portion of the population in the United States is the emergency department (ED) of a hospital (Burt and McCaig 2001). The 2003 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) reported an estimated 114 million visits to hospital emergency departments that year, with only 15 per cent of these visits considered emergencies (McCaig and Burt 2005). This is despite the fact that the ED is intended to provide care for people who have been in accidents, experienced traumatic injuries or are suffering with severe or potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Nurse Researcher. 15, 3, 72-88. doi: 10.7748/nr2008.

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